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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The French Laundry

On Sunday, May 15th, I celebrated my birthday with friends at The French Laundry.  I've been wanting to go for ages, and finally the stars aligned so that it was possible.

It's an experience, sort of a trip to Disneyland for grownups.  Everything was perfect, the weather was lovely, it's before the season starts in wine country so it wasn't too crowded, all the roses are in bloom everywhere, the vines all have foliage, so everything is super green everywhere.  Just a lovely, lovely day to be in the wine country.

The restaurant's exterior is understated and elegant.  The grounds are beautiful and the kitchen is  unlike any other restaurant kitchen I've seen.  So many people working quietly and efficiently to put out spectacular dishes.  

The interior is also elegant and understated and the first thing that you notice is how quiet it is...all the tables are full, people are eating, but there's no loud conversation or clanking of glassware and utensils - it's amazingly quiet.  

As there were 10 in our party, we had the private dining room, a large round table with a gorgeous flower arrangement in the center, lovely place settings and the famously folded napkin with clothes pin.  (Photos were taken by others and haven't been circulated yet, sorry...).

Service is out of this world, there is someone quietly refilling your glass or refolding your napkin without your realizing that they are there.  All plates are served at the same time, so it's like a ballet throughout the entire meal.  Each dish is explained in detail after it is set down for you to admire.  Wine is paired with each dish.

There were 9 courses and several "extra" surprises...

 "Beets and Leeks", Maine Lobster Tail "Pochee au Beurre Doux", French Laundry Garden Leeks, Baby Red Beets and "Mousseline Raifort"  (This was my favorite.)

Milk-Poached Four Story Hill Farm "Poularde" Hobbs' Bacon, Morel Mushrooms, English Peas and Tokyo Turnips

Andante Dairy "Nocturnes" Black Truffle Tart, Royal Blenheim Apricot, Fennel and Piedmont Hazelnuts

A special treat for the birthday girl... Chocolate and a light peanut butter small handmade chocolates.

"Mousse Au Chocolat Blanc", Morello Cherries and Marcona Almonds

We were there for 5 hours!  Our parting "gift" was a beautiful bag with cookies, chocolates and our menus.  

I highly recommend that if there is anyway you can, it's worth experiencing this kind of dining at least once...

My thanks to Ruth and Yasuo for making this day possible for me!  And to my dear friend Peggy for sharing the day and doing the driving.  

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